Yesterday I wrote about a session that I wanted to see by Michael Cote’ called The Coming Donkey Apocalypse. In my article I said on its face I didn’t agree with calling the mainstream adopters Donkeys. I also felt that their adoption would not result in an apocalypse. I also said that you can’t judge a book by its cover and you can’t judge a session by its title and abstract. I was really looking forward to see what Cote’ was getting at in this session.
So I eagerly grabbed a near front row seat when he took the stage right after Damon Edwards excellent opening keynote. One of the first things Michael addressed was his use of the term Donkey. Actually he started off with his conclusions which I thought was a very effective way of delivering a session as it focused the audience on what the takeaways are supposed to be. Anyway Michael says that donkeys are hard working beasts of burden, gets no respect, has to do more with less and represents the “rest of us”. The donkey as a jackass connection is not part of this. It is more that while Unicorns are magical, horses are actually regal but most of us are more like donkeys. Put better as one of Michael’s co-workers said “the donkey is real people with real problems”. DevOps Donkeys are what is coming as more mainstream adoption of DevOps takes place.
Michael had a lot of data showing that DevOps adoption is very much on the rise. Multiple sources showed a continuing further penetration by DevOps in the marketplace. Also the idea of what DevOps is understood enough to move on beyond that. The jist of the message was that the people attending the session had to do what they could to help these donkey’s in their adoption and journey to DevOps.
But what about the apocalypse? This is important. It is not that “bending DevOps to their will” is the apocalyptic event. Rather the apocalypse is the fact that according Ian Head of Gartner says that “by 2018 90% of I & O organizations attempting to use DevOps without specifically addressing their cultural foundations will fail.”
This is something I agree with. All too often the tendency is to “bag dive” into tools and features. While everyone gives lip service that DevOps has a strong cultural element which trumps tools, to too many people it is just lip service. They will talk about the cultural aspects then go run out and buy tools to implement. Then they wonder when their DevOps projects fail. That is apocalypse we need to avoid.
I spoke with Cote’ briefly after his session and clarified some of his message and thoughts. I am embedding a slide share of his presentation from slideshare. Though marked draft, it seems to be complete. I will update it when a later copy becomes available.
So the take away from me is something that I have seen time and time again. How do you help donkeys or anyone else implement a cultural foundation for DevOps in their organization. This is a different problem than picking the right tool. In talking with Michael he mentioned that transforming corporate culture is something that companies such as McKinsey and Bain literally wrote the book on.
The problem is can donkey’s afford McKinsey or Bain? Probably not. So how can they get practical, affordable counseling and advice on transforming their culture. I don’t know any companies offering that today. But if any of you do, leave a comment so perhaps others looking for this will be aware of them.
Anyway, it was a great session by Michael Cote’ in a day full of great sessions and DevOps learning in Austin today. I am looking forward to another great day tomorrow.